2000-06-17 / Columnists

Fitness Forum…..

Ask The Personal Trainer


Dear Shaun,

I’m overweight and out of shape. I need to lose some pounds and I’ve heard that jogging is the best way. The problem is I can’t even run across the street to avoid getting hit by a car, without losing my breath. I’m so ready to start exercising, but how does someone totally out of shape (like myself) begin?



Yasmin -- two words, four syllables -- very slowly. Sort of like the speed my journalism career will take off if I keep using lame one liners.

There are so many first time exercisers who quit shortly after they begin because they took things way too fast and overworked themselves. When the summers rolling around, people tend to join the gym, jump on the treadmill, hike it up to seven miles per hour and attempt to burn as many calories as possible in as short time a period as possible. It’s the quick fix that never seems to work, not just in exercising but in all aspects of our lives. You always want to gradually move into any situation in order to avoid overload of your mind and your body.

Okay, I’m through playing psychiatrist, here’s my advice. Since you’re new to the exercise game, take it easy for the first few weeks to avoid over working. Give this a shot.

Start off walking for five minutes. At the five minute mark, try and speed walk for one minute. When the minute is up, slow back down to your initial walking pace. Repeat the one minute speed walk every five minutes until you reach 30 minutes. Perform this workout three to five times a week for a four week period. After the four weeks is up, attempt to replace your initial walk with a speed walk, and the one minute speed walk with 30 seconds of jogging, with everything else staying constant. This is a form of interval training, which will help your heart and body work more efficiently and eventually have you jogging for your entire workout.

Yasmin, if you keep this up, within a few months you’ll be running like the wind. Well, maybe not like the wind, but at least you’ll be able to make it across the street safely. On a serious note, jogging is the best form of cardiovascular training and a great way to begin your journey to good health and great shape. Now, don’t be swayed if the physical results don’t appear right away, because mentally you’ll be feeling much better about yourself and what you’re doing. So good luck with it and I’ll see you at the gym…or on the beach.


(Questions for personal trainer Shaun Ruskin can be sent to Fitness Forum, c/o The Wave, P.O. Box 97, Rockaway Beach, New York, 11693.)

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